Why is my Mac ridiculously slow?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Jodles, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. Jodles macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2008
    I have a late 2008 aluminum Macbook, 2.4Ghz and 2gb of ram, running OS X 10.6.4. I did a reformat and clean install of SL in late spring this year.

    For the last month or so, everything has become slower and slower. And the last days, it seems like something is writing to disk (I can hear it) all the time, even though I have no programs running and spotlight isn't indexing.

    The most annoying part is that apps take ages to launch, and while they're launching, if I right click it says "app not responding"; I get beach balls all the time, and simply clicking an icon in top right corner or a menu item in top left takes 3-10 seconds!

    I'm not running many apps at a time (Safari+Mail+ something else), and it's pretty bad with nothing running as well. At least compared to a clean install.

    Permissions is repaired, and all regular scripts are run at their designated times... no "hacks" have been done either.

    Could I have a ram or harddrive issue?

    This is so annoying and is, ironically, slower and worse than my pre 2007 Windows Vista machine ever was(!).

    Any ideas what could be wrong?.... :(

    edit: just realized I should've posted this in the OS X forum. Sorry!
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Try another clean install. If it still lags after clean install, then it's a hardware issue and sounds like it's a bad hard drive
  3. ZenErik macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2007
    Clean install like the other poster said. If it's still slow it probably is a bad HDD. There are programs that will can check the integrity if your HDD.

    As far as optimizing your system, I am a big fan of XSlimmer. Cuts out code that your computer doesn't need in most applications which allows them to load much more quickly. Also consider checking out a program like iDefrag. HFS+ is pretty efficient but defragmenting the drive will still help a bit. Sadly, neither of those programs are free.
  4. Jodles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2008
    Thanks guys!

    I have already used XSlimmer for most apps, but there's probably a few recently updated ones that I forgot to do. Thanks for reminding me!:)

    And I have Techtool pro.. so could run the defrag there I guess.

    Regarding clean install I have to wait off a little bit, it's too much hassle in the middle of school semester when I need my mac all the time... But I'll definitely be doing it in the Christmas break if thing's haven't worked out till then..
  5. ZenErik macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2007
    Just make sure you have all your data backed up in case the drive crashes before the end of the semester. Good luck.
  6. dknightd macrumors 6502

    Mar 7, 2004
    Maybe your disk is just running out of free space. You need at least 10% free - preferably more. If you have less than 20% free, you might want to try cleaning some stuff off the disk.
  7. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    See if updating to 10.6.5 does any help/damage.
  8. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    First thought, your computer is at an age when the hard disk will start to be prone to failure. The first symptom is often "thrashing" and repetitive re-tries. So, get backed up and stay backed up. It might be wise to replace the drive just-in-case. Can't hurt, and the process is cheap and easy enough to do yourself. ifixit.com has instructions. For your model, separating the keyboard/trackpad face from the surrounding stamped aluminum case will be the toughest part. Use a non-snappable plastic picnic knife and take care not to bend anything. If you're reasonably handy, it's an hour's work, and you can then restore your system as it was with Time Machine. While you're at it, jam in as much RAM as it'll hold and upgrade the disk to one with more space and a faster spin-rate.

    That's literally the first thing I'd do, if it were my machine. It might solve your problem and will prevent future ones.

    If, however, you'd like to do more investigations first and are convinced the drive is healthy, use the Activity Monitor to see what's eating CPU cycles.

    A final thought: if you frequent warez sites and such, there's a chance you might be among the rare Mac users to have contracted a Trojan by installing a hacked piece of software. Sophos offers a very nice and unobtrusive anti-malware utility to find and guard against such stuff. It'll take a while to scan your system but that can be done in the background. (Maybe not in your case, since your machine is already acting up.) Worthwhile: http://www.sophos.com/products/free-tools/free-mac-anti-virus/

    Good luck.
  9. Jodles thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 5, 2008
    Thank you all for your suggestions!

    ZenErik: I run a constant timemachine backup. I've done that mistake before, and getting the harddrive recovered by a company that literally opened it up and scanned the plates in a dust-free environment was not cheap....

    dknightd: I have a bout 45 gB left, so should be fine...

    roadbloc: I'm holding off for 10.6.5 till I'm not dependent on the Mac every day.. I've read so much about people having trouble from landscape printing to startup failures..

    sjinsjca: I'm at a university where we must have McAfee antivirus (or some other equivalent) installed to get access to the network, so I should be fine.. Nothing is eating CPU. I think the most likely is the harddrive might be dying. I'll take it to the Apple store when I get home. (5 year consumer warranty in Norway :D)
  10. msevild macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2007
    I am a tech that works on apple machines. I recommend using a program called smart utility to look at the raw smart data on the drive. Any bad sectors would be a bad sign. But I would use activity monitor to view all processes running on the machine a rather than user processes(drop down in upper right corner of activity monitor) and also looking at how much system memory is available(if you have no green in the pie chart then that is bad and something is eating up massive amounts of RAM, and then using your hard drive space for additional memory. Respond back with your results please.
  11. t1937r0 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 5, 2006
    Check Apple->About this Mac->More Info...->Logs (in left pane) and look for any large, recently modified system logs. If you click on the log, and scroll down to the bottom of the log, it might be informative.
  12. bobr1952 macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2008
    Melbourne, FL
    OS-X seems to stay pretty consistent over time--and with that relatively recent install, it does sound like the weak link may be your HD. Just keep those backups current in case it does finally give out on you.
  13. hzxu macrumors regular

    Dec 17, 2008
    You can check your HDD's SMART status via smartmontools or any other utilities that can check them, there is an attribute called Load_Cycle_Count, see what value it has.

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